Introduction

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

The Life of Reason (Vol. 1), George Santayana

The electrical contact has always been an essential part of the electric circuit. The reliability of the electrical contact has also been an essential, but often ignored, factor—ignored, that is, until it fails. Thus, it sometimes seems as if problems that should have been solved many years ago keep recurring. This perception is, of course, only partially true. In their earliest forms, electric circuits usually carried only a limited range of currents: perhaps up to a few hundred amperes. Since then, this current range has increased considerably. Now electrical contacts of one type or another are found in very high power circuits ...

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